The vice chair of San Jose’s Board of Fair Campaign and Political Practices Commission abruptly resigned this month over a colleague’s op-ed criticizing Mayor Sam Liccardo’s push to give his office more powers.
Liccardo and his business allies eventually reversed course on the issue, backing off a proposed ballot measure that would usher in a strong-mayor system in the nation’s 10th largest city to give everyone more time to weigh in on the idea.
But the fallout from the July op-ed penned by Fair Campaign and Political Practices Chair Adrian Gonzales continues to reverberate on the five-member committee, which investigates suspected violations of local election law.
Chris Peacock was so upset about Gonzales’ open critique of the city’s top elected official that he stepped down as vice chair toward the end of last week.
In a resignation letter sent to City Clerk Toni Taber, Peacock said he took issue with Gonzales’ claim that the mayor and council members supportive of the strong-mayor push hadn’t consulted with the campaign ethics board. “Yet the op-ed itself reflected no consultation with this, the very same board, on this subject,” Peacock wrote.
City rules require commissioners to defer to the chair before issuing public statements or comments to the media. Even then, when a chairperson voices a public opinion, they must clarify that they’re not speaking on behalf of the board, but as an individual citizen.
Gonzales told Fly that because his op-ed was written in the first person, it was clear that the opinions expressed in the piece were his own. As for Peacock’s claim that the op-ed hurt the commission's credibility, Gonzales said that point is “moot.”
“After receiving significant feedback from the community, the Mayor and City Council did exactly as requested—they decided to push the brakes on the ballot measure to perform greater community engagement, including referring the proposed campaign finance reforms to our Board for further study,” Gonzales told Fly.
The chairman added that he’s sad to see his colleague “resign over a disagreement.” Peacock has served on the board for seven years. His term was set to expire next year.